Jean-Talon is one of four renowned markets operated by Public Markets of Montréal Corporation (MPM). This unique organization is dedicated to providing Montrealers with access to fresh, locally sourced foods and goods in order to boost the local economy. Established in 1993, MPM is also a cultural institution in the proud French-speaking city. “The corporation’s goal is to honour the traditions of past public markets, pay tribute to Québec’s heritage and to be a place where rural and urban cultures meet,” reads the official MPM website.
Aside from the four main markets, Lachine, Atwater, Maisonneuve and Jean-Talon, MPM also operates 11 other neighbourhood markets and flower kiosks, and boasts more than 250 members, vendors and merchants providing goods from Quebec.
One of the oldest markets in the city is the Jean-Talon Market, located in the city’s Little Italy. Originally opened in 1933 with the name Marché du Nord, the market was later renamed in honour of Jean Talon, the first Intendant of New France during the colonial era.
Today, the Jean-Talon Market is one of North America’s largest indoor public markets that operates year round. It is one of Montreal’s most beloved landmarks and a renowned tourist destination.
Popular American food blogger, Anne Marie, has visited the market three times while on vacation and is already planning another trip. “When we stepped into the market, I was blown away. Rows of vendors covered an entire city block with bright palettes of berries, peppers, greens, and eggplant. Locally made cheese, cider, and baked treats beckoned from all directions. I didn’t know where to begin,” reads her food-centric blog, Real Food, Real Deals.
Visitors are drawn to the sheer selection that Jean-Talon offers. From a plethora of seasonal vegetables to the hand-crafted goods, the market offers Montrealers everything they want and more under one roof. The icon status of the market has grown so much it has been featured in a variety of articles and has a book written about it entitled, In Market Chronicles: Stories & Recipes from Montreal’s Marché Jean-Talon.
Author and chef Susan Semenak first visited the market as a child, but rediscovered the beauty of the historic landmark and became inspired by the vendors. “The farmers who bring their stuff are friendly and accessible – and it was a way for me to learn where my food comes from and how it grew,” she told the Montreal Gazette.
Similarly to Semenak, Michael Genereux, Montreal based entrepreneur and businessman, also has a fond relationship with the Little Italy market. Michael Genereux, who has invested in the fine wine business, not only enjoys visiting the market, he has also worked with the vendors there.
Montreal’s Michael Genereux particularly emphasizes the Jean-Talon Market as being a great place to meet all different kinds of people; Genereux also comments on the rich history of the area.
In addition to the wide variety of locally sourced food and merchandise, Jean-Talon serves as a cultural and communal hub. With the French, Italian and African influences, the market reflects the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood and of Montreal more broadly.
Jean-Talon is especially beautiful during the holidays, with its selection of fresh Christmas trees and wreaths and the fresh apple cider and hot chocolate to drink.
Today, each of the city’s markets has a wide selection of products from all over Québec and are staffed by knowledgeable vendors who are eager to offer their expertise. The markets are also a place to meet and are a valuable location for community events.
Montréal Marché Jean-Talon & Marché Atwater photos by Eugene Kim. License: CC BY 2.0.